Senators: Expedite info-sharing plan

A bipartisan group of senators is urging John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, to see to it that an information-sharing implementation plan, as required by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, is submitted to Congress without further delay.

The Information Sharing Environment (ISE) implementation plan, which was due within one year of enactment of the law, is intended to outline ways that will make it easier for federal agencies and state, local and tribal governments to access and share governmentwide terrorism information.

In a letter sent Sept. 11 to Negroponte, Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) expressed their concern “that the president has not yet submitted to Congress an implementation plan” for ISE.

They said some progress has been made in this regard, "but not enough to ensure the continued security of the country." For example, they wrote that the newly created ISE has already had its second program manager, is not yet fully staffed and has completed only an interim implementation plan.

“Effective congressional oversight, including our consideration of whether the ISE should be reauthorized, depends on our receipt and review of the implementation plan,” they wrote.

The lawmakers wrote that the 9/11 Commission concluded that “a lack of information sharing contributed to the government’s failure to prevent the attacks” and recommended that “1) policies and procedures should provide incentives for sharing information, to restore a better balance between security and shared knowledge, and 2) the president should lead the governmentwide effort to bring resolution to the sometimes conflicting legal, policy and technical issues across agencies to create a ‘trusted information network.’”

And they wrote that the commission’s successor, the 9/11 Public Discourse Project, gave the government a grade of D in information sharing, including incentives for information sharing and governmentwide information sharing.

“This is simply unacceptable and demands urgent action to maximize our ability to prevent future acts of terrorism against the American people,” the senators wrote.

“There is widespread agreement that information sharing must be improved and a trusted information-sharing environment achieved,” they wrote. “We cannot allow turf battles and agency infighting to stymie this effort. We ask that you, as the director of national intelligence, encourage the president, with the assistance of the ISE program manager, to submit to Congress the implementation plan required” by the act.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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